www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | i a collection of four of our favorite articles on contemporary ceramic sculpture ceramicarts dail y . org contemporary clay sculpture www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 1 Figurative Ceramics by Mark Chatterley from the Ceramics Monthly Working Sculptor 9s series Mark Chatterley discusses his approach to making large-scale sculpture and surviving as an artist over time. Re ections on Accumulation by Wendy Walgate Canadian artist, Wendy Walgate comments on a culture o 5 acquisition with brightly colored, slip-cast, and assembled sculptures Doug Herren 9s Large-scale Clay Vessels from the Ceramics Monthly Working Sculptor 9s series Doug Herren shares with us his experiences in making a living with art and provides his best advice 5or those wishing to do the same.
Barbro Åberg: Lightweight Sculpture by Ulla Munck Jørgensen Barbro Åberg 9s abstract paper clay sculptures hint at ancient language, astronomy, and biology. Contemporary Clay Sculpture A Collection of four of our favorite articles on Contempo- rary Ceramic Sculpture Clay reigns as the oldest and most natural medium 5or sculpture. From the dawn o 5 human history, people o 5 every ... more. less.
cul- ture have taken clay and molded it into objects.<br><br> You can coil monumental 5orms, build with slabs, make totems, or even use computers to generate sculptures. For thousands o 5 years, clay 9s versatility and universal accessibility have made it the most popular medium 5or creating three dimensional work. Some o 5 the work in this new Ceramic Arts Daily download is monumental, some intricate, some site speci c, but all o 5 it infuenced by clay.<br><br> With each artist providing some aspect o 5 the sculptural process 5rom conceptualization to 5orming and nishing to the nal installation, you 9ll nd the range o 5 ideas and techniques in 5ormative and inspiring. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 2 Figurative Ceramics by Mark Chatterley I was recently at an alternative art space opening with a group o4 4riends and a student looked at us and said, cRock and roll old school. d At rst I was o4- 4ended, but then realized he was right. When I went to school cone 10 clay was king.<br><br> Functional, thrown, utilitarian objects were the favor o4 the day. We didn 9t have computers, cell phones or iPods. Now anything is possible in the clay world 4rom content to temperature.<br><br> There are so many ways to work that I mysel4 set rules to work within so I don 9t get lost in the possi- bilities. Clay bodies, glazes and kilns are all things that I have 4ormulated or built. It gives me a feeting sense o4 control and sets working parameters.<br><br> The best part o4 being a ceramic sculptor is work- ing with clay and making the 4orms. I barrel through 18,000 pounds o4 clay a year. I make work 4or 3 months then re it all in one kiln load.<br><br> The rest o4 the sculpture making pro- cess goes downhill 4or me as 4ar as pleasure. Load- ing the kiln, glazing and nishing the work are all things that need to be done so I can continue my addic- tion with clay. Although neither marketing nor selling my work are very high on my list o4 4avorite things to do, both are necessary evils and must be considered.<br><br> The economy is down and people are concerned with their 401k plans. Art is not on the average person 9s mind when they are worried about paying the mortgage. So I am looking 4or the not-so-average buyer, people who want art either 4or an investment or as an enhancement to their quality o4 li4e.<br><br> I work with sixteen or so galleries around the coun- try that hope4ully have access to this ideal art collector. Throughout the year, I have an average o4 six one- or two-person shows. People don 9t want to see the same thing year a4ter year and this keeps me in a constant state o4 trying to reinvent mysel4 and come up with new work.<br><br> I nd mysel4 revisiting old themes but hope4ully with a di44er- ent point o4 view. A4ter working with clay 4or over 20 years, my options o4 something new become smaller. A Zen saying goes, cA be- ginner has many possibilities and an expert has 4ew. d I have been teaching workshops on creativity and the golden mean, trying to help others and mysel4 make inner connections 4or a more personal- ized style.<br><br> One o4 the class assign- ments I give is to take pictures o4 interesting objects that resonate 4or each individual. Then I have the student combine three o4 these images into one using the golden mean proportion that we will later translate into clay. Rorschach tests and guided meditation are also experimented with 4or inspiration.<br><br> I also like to read books outside o4 the art eld 4or inspiration, in- cluding quantum physics, psychol- ogy, string theory, shamanism and Kama Sutra. Then I try to gure out how conceptual ideas can be translated into clay 4orms. I also have a small group o4 4riends that I can bounce ideas o44 o4.<br><br> We meet once a month 4or a show and discuss what we are working on. Mostly, inspiration comes down to going into the studio everyday and try- ing to gure out what I can do that is new but won 9t be Detail o$ Peace, handbuilt, crater glaze, fred to cone 6. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 3 too weird or di44erent 4rom my previous work so that I will lose my collectors.<br><br> Maybe that is what it means to be old school, stuck in a style that is recognized as mine and being nancially 4ear4ul o4 branching out. The one advertising class I took in college droned on about name recognition. I realized that it is a way to get work out into the marketplace and try to elevate prices.<br><br> For each show I do, the gallery provides a press release o4 my artist statement and photos to the local papers that sometimes lead into 4eatured stories. I also split ads with the galleries in national art magazines. In addition to building name recognition, I try to attract attention to a speci c piece.<br><br> Being a ceramic sculptor, the physical aspect o4 work- ing large becomes an issue. The older I get, the larger and heavier the work seams to get. I keep threatening to become a jeweler when I grow up.<br><br> Until that happens, I go to the gym 3 days a week 4or an hour o4 weight training 4ollowed by an hour o4 aerobics. I try to main- tain my strength so I can move my own work around. When I do a show I drive a body o4 work in my own van, which can hold 2 tons, rather then making crates 4or each piece.<br><br> Unloading and placing the work can get physical, especially i4 stairs are involved. I nd mysel4 shying away 4rom shows i4 I have to walk the work up stairs. I imagine someday I might have to hire assistants or get a 4ork li4t to move the work around, but until then, I think o4 it as a 4ree work out.<br><br> I may be rock and roll old school. I just hope I have a 4ew new licks to be relevant in the 4uture. To See more of Chatterley 9s work, go to chatterley.com Inset right: Mark Chatterley building li$e-size fgures in his Williamston, Michigan, studio.<br><br> Below: Child pose , 58 in. (147 cm.) in height, handbuilt, crater glaze, fred to cone 6. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 4 Re ections on Accumulation by Wendy Walgate A untie Annie 9s mantelpiece was my wunderkam- men (wonder cabinet).<br><br> She had arranged hundreds o4 ceramic animals on three levels o4 her mantel, resting just out o4 reach, above the sight line o4 her worshipping 12-year-old niece. There were no doors or cabinet sides to protect this collection, but it was clear to ev- eryone that they were strictly untouchable. I would stand in 4ront o4 them, duti4ully clasping my hands behind my back as I mentally cataloged the animal population.<br><br> Auntie Annie worked in a 4actory attaching light bulb laments by hand. On the weekends, with whatever money she had le4t over a4ter 4ood, rent and clothing, she would buy new animals 4or her menagerie. Miniature dogs, cats, deer, mice, sheep, cows and every other representation o4 the animal kingdom appeared.<br><br> They were purchased 4or pennies, o4 course, but they meant everything to me. I adored, marveled at, coveted and now seek to recapture that mantel. Forty years later, Auntie Annie and her collection are long gone, but I conjure them in my work.<br><br> Maybe as a mani4estation o4 repressed domesticity, the 1940s and 950s produced households literally swamped with ceramic gurines. Looking to construct a cnice d home, my Yellow is Betrayal , 22 in. (56 cm) in height, slip-cast white earthenware, fred to cones 06 and 04, with metal egg basket, 2004.<br><br> Green is Balance , 28 in. (71 cm) in height, slip-cast white earthenware, fred to cones 06 and 04, with metal ammunition box. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 5 mother accumulated inexpensive ornaments 4rom occupied Japan, available at local discount stores like Woolworth 9s and Zeller 9s.<br><br> In Canada, a vast range o4 animal gurines came packed with Red Rose tea bags. These tea bag gurines ac- cumulated in dri4ts and shoals, and soon vied 4or space with 4amilies o4 poodles and kittens attached with chains, proud- ly displayed in our kitchen window. A long-legged ceramic Bambi held a place o4 honor on my dresser, along with ceram- ic souvenirs 4rom 4amily road trips to the Canadian Rockies.<br><br> In her 4ascinating book An Alchemy o4 Mind, Diane Ackerman states, cMuch o4 a sel4 derives 4rom recollected events, this weight and outcome, and the personal iconography they create. d I agree. It would be dishonest 4or me to produce work that is all about reduction and simpli cation. Minimalism, Zen and Abstraction are phi- losophies that I cannot pos- sibly embrace simply because o4 my weight o4 recollected events.<br><br> My li4e is and was com- plication, crowding and pro4u- sion. When I look around me, that is what I see. From the window o4 my current studio, which is located in downtown Toronto in a 19th-century dis- tillery building, I watch com- muter and cargo trains rattle by.<br><br> Above the train tracks is an elevated highway, streaming with trucks, cars and motor- cycles all day long. A glimpse o4 Lake Ontario now and then between the boxcars reveals commercial tankers working in the harbor. The world outside o4 my studio window is a con- tinuum o4 movement, sounds and vehicles.<br><br> I nd this urban activity strangely soothing and energizing, as i4 it represents the music o4 vanished childhood. Ironically, I rst studied ceramics at the University o4 Manitoba, in the middle o4 Canada 9s vast, fat and 4eatureless great prairie. My major at the time was printmaking, and the process o4 impression and reverse printing on plates echo in my claywork today.<br><br> One day, watching Robert Archambeau sit at a kick wheel and power4ully manipulate a pot, I became enthralled by the qualities o4 clay. As sculptor Sidney Geist wrote, cLove o4 material is a psychological, not a sculptural a44air. d I 4ell in love with the material. As a result, I ended up completing a double major in printmaking and ceramics.<br><br> Years later, I attended a rigorous two-year course at George Brown College in Toronto in commercial ceramic produc- tion to better understand the technical aspects o4 throwing, glaze chemistry and slip casting. A4ter graduating 4rom this course, I set up my own commercial studio in an industrial area o4 Toronto and produced wheel-thrown majolica 4unc- tional ware 4or sale in many cra4t stores across Canada. I did this 4or years, until carpal tunnel syndrome 4orced me to abandon throwing and use coils and slabs to produce tea- pots, plates, cups and vases.<br><br> Later I returned to school 4or an M.F.A. 4rom Cranbrook Academy o4 Art, where I continued to work on 4unctional 4orms with heavily embossed sur4aces and dynamic colors. By dusting plastic, metal and wood 4orms with cornstarch as a resist, I was able to use 4ound objects as molds and bypass the plaster stage.<br><br> For example, South Asian textile printing blocks provided me with sur- 4ace texture to impress slabs 4or teapots and vases. Soon, these two-dimensional sur4ace textures emerged as 4ully re- alized, three-dimensional ob- jects. Press-molded animals and objects began to appear on the edges o4 my plates, lids and teapot bases, as well as on the handles o4 pitchers.<br><br> During a two-year residency at the Harbour4ront Cra4ts Studio in Toronto, an exhibi- tion opportunity in an outdoor gallery space led me to make a large 4ountain. A4ter purchas- ing a commercial greenware carchangel d and a couple o4 cVenuses d to complete the 4ountain, I was invited by the owners o4 the greenware store to go to the back o4 their shop and rummage through their pile o4 discarded molds. Damaged as they were, a battered Paul Revere, a worn, stylized 4rog and an idealized cottage soon acquired personal meaning and became part o4 my ce- ramics vocabulary.<br><br> My battered Paul Revere came to signi4y the American military. The worn, stylized 4rog came to sym- bolize nature. The cottage characterized the ideal o4 home 4 the home o4 daydreams and imagination.<br><br> My palette evokes a child 9s sensibilities and re4erences the commercially made animal gurines that lined the shelves o4 my childhood home. I use achromatic arrangements o4 color to uni4y the impact o4 the sculptural arrangements. This idea also has historical antecedent.<br><br> Samuel Wittwer, in A Royal Blue Rabbit with Garlic Necklace , 21 in. (53 cm) in height, slip-cast white earthen- ware, fred to cones 06 and 04, with toy drum, wire, 2004. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 6 Menagerie, explains that, in the 16th century, Augustus the Strong o4 Poland commissioned a vast collection o4 porcelain animals 4rom Meissen 4or the Japanese Palace in Dresden.<br><br> A total o4 25,215 porcelain pieces were arranged in color groups that refected a certain hierarchy. As the visi- tor moved through the antechambers that led to Augustus 9 audience room, the importance o4 the color o4 both the room and its porcelain animals increased. According to the color associations o4 that period, red stood 4or power, green 4or humility, yellow 4or splendor, blue 4or divinity and purple 4or authority.<br><br> By grouping my animals by color, I am pointing to their objecti cation by society and their callous use as a com- modity. Categorizing animals by color also re4ers to the endless possibilities o4 genetic manipulation. Denaturalized red chickens, turquoise calves, yellow pigs and pink turkeys represent the modern hubris o4 genetic manipulation.<br><br> We ap- pear to have acquired power over creation, but choose to use this power to turn all creation into a 4ashion accessory. Process Color is important in my li4e. To achieve a range o4 brilliant sur4ace colors, I use both commercial and studio-mixed glaz- es.<br><br> Matt and glossy Cone 06 commercial glazes provide the saturated colors o4 cpoinsettia red, d cpumpkin orange d and cyellow jacket yellow. d I also hand mix two simple bases, a glossy and matt, which re to Cone 04. These bases are mixed with 15% commercial stains and are used to contrast the smooth, regular sur4aces o4 the commercial glazes. This palette evokes the color-saturated world o4 my Ukranian an- cestors, the piles o4 brightly colored toys and books 4rom my past, and echoes a li4e o4 pro4ound nearsightedness 4I always saw the strong, bright colors rst.<br><br> Each nished work usually contains over 80 individual slip- cast objects, which I personally cast and glaze. Commercial glazes o4ten must be applied three times to each piece. For a work that has 80 cast objects, I can end up handling the pieces 4or one arrangement over 240 times.<br><br> In order to x the arrangements o4 animals and objects together, I use an industrial strength glue called E 330 CL, made by Loctite, which is specially 4ormulated 4or adhering ceramics. Over the course o4 a 4ew days, I build up the height o4 each work by adding successive layers o4 objects. A Final Word In 19th-century England, according to Bevis Hillier in Pottery and Porcelain, 1700 31914, the public 9s passionate demand 4or collecting ceramics dramatically increased the reproduc- tion industry and its corollary, the c4ake d work.<br><br> The general consensus is that replicas, when marked with the maker 9s name are creproductions. d When they are not marked or signed, they may be c4akes. d Wheel-thrown reproduction is a well-accepted part o4 the studio-pottery movement in which I originally studied, but one-o4-a-kind originality and individual manipulation o4 the material are still its touchstones. Needless to say, among ce- ramics practitioners and public viewers, the use o4 commer- cial molds in my work causes an astonished reaction laced with a hint o4 c4akery. d In 4act, most public cra4t shows have a contract that stipulates that no commercial molds may be used in the making o4 the work. A set o4 regulations 4rom a contemporary cra4t show in Toronto includes the clause, carticles made 4rom molds are acceptable only where the mold is the design and product o4 the artist or cra4tsperson. d The reasoning behind that clause is to prevent manu4actured wares 4rom competing against handmade pots in cra4ts shows.<br><br> There is a kind o4 a priori (empirical) arrogance in such a statement that I nd telling and provocative. I make two responses to these criticisms, one academic and one experiential. Academically, my response begins with Dadaism, de ned by Udo Rukser in 1920 as ca stratagem by which the artist can impart to the citizen something o4 the inner unrest which prevents the artist himsel4 4rom being lulled to sleep by custom and routine. d (Hans Richter, Dada, Art and Anti-Art.) While Dadaists preached canti-art, d their ideas inspire one to con4ront the passivity and con4ormity o4 Leachian practice in traditional ceramics circles.<br><br> Tell Me What You Eat , 11 in. (28 cm) in height, slip-cast and handbuilt white earthenware, fred to cones 06 and 04, with metal lunch box, 2004, by Wendy Walgate, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. To view more, go to walgate.com .<br><br> www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 7 Doug Herren 9s Large-scale Clay Vessels W orking in ce- ramics w a s something I dis- covered in college. Watching my rst instructor throwing pottery on the wheel was mesmerizing and something I just had to learn how to do. So my original aspira- tions to pursue graphic design gave way to ceramics& and all along I really wanted to be a ne arts major any- how.<br><br> Over the next 4ew years, I earned both my BFA and MFA in ceramics, and continued on to residencies, one at the Archie Bray 4or two years and a second one at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia. At these residencies, I shi4ted 4rom making 4unctional pottery to developing my current sculptural style. I have sold work since my undergradu- ate days but I have never relied on these sales completely.<br><br> Teaching has been my main income since leaving gradu- ate school and cur- rently I am an ad- junct pro4essor at two area universi- ties. How I 9ve managed to sell work over the years has been more happenstance. Dur- ing my residencies, I always had the chance to exhibit and sell.<br><br> My recent work is represent- ed at a gallery that, cor the frst time, is not exclusively ceramic. Most o c my sales are to collectors. As much as I enjoy working in the studio, I o cten have side in- terests that occupy me crom time to time.<br><br> For a cew years, I took classical guitar lessons and last year I built a large truss-style Dob- sonian telescope. Two years ago my wi ce and I bought a property that we attempted to renovate cor apartments, but a year later we sold it deciding we were in over our heads. Now we have a town- house cacing a park in the city with a carriage house in the back we use cor our studios.<br><br> Green Industrial Teapot , 17 d (43 cm) in height, stoneware with sign painter 9s paint. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 8 Being a potter cor so long, it 9s been a challenge to shake using only ceramic solutions cor my work. But the scale I employ now compelled me to use things like sign painter 9s paints instead o c glazes.<br><br> I make stands cor my work using discarded lumber crom the numerous row houses nearby. I cut up large timbers cor table-tops that I then cashion ceramic legs cor and bolt on. When it comes to marketing my work, I have to admit I am my own worst enemy.<br><br> Pursuing contacts and galleries is something I really call down on, yet with the cew shows I have had, my sales have been decent. Being a resident at The Clay Studio was espe- cially help cul in meeting and being seen by many o c the collectors in the area. Living in Philadelphia has certainly made marketing easier because o c the strong arts community that exists here.<br><br> I do photograph my own work. I have been doing this cor over 20 years, cor mysel c and occasionally cor others. I shoot slides, 2 ¼ -inch transparencies, and digital shots to cover all bases.<br><br> I 9ve always celt no one knows better how to shoot the work than the person who made the work. I regularly apply cor the PCA and PEW grants o c cered here in Pennsylvania. I used to apply cor more local and national pottery- oriented shows, but no longer as I only make sculptural work now.<br><br> I divided my time between the two worlds cor a number o c years, but in the end both got short-changed. Only when I chose to de- velop the sculptural work exclusively did I really start to make more signifcant progress. At present, I am the studio technician at Swarthmore College, where I teach occasionally and receive health insurance benefts.<br><br> My wi ce and I are both committed studio artists. Most o c our cree time is dedicated to being in the studio. For mysel c, it is mostly evenings and weekends that I fnd time cor the studio.<br><br> During the summer I can be there cull-time, i c not actually working on a piece, then spending days working on a drawing cor new work. Above: Platter-Form #7 , 28 d (71 cm) in height, stoneware with sign painter 9s paint. Right: Doug Herren assembling a sculpture in his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, studio.<br><br> I knew crom very early on that I wanted to work in the arts. I don 9t expect to make much money crom my work, just enough to have a studio space and time to make the art frst and coremost. I c my day job can be related to this work, so much the better.<br><br> I do my best to teach students in basic handbuilding and throwing techniques and to encourage them as much as I can. I know how much things can stack against them. It is their own continuing interest that they will have to rely on to keep making art.<br><br> www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 9 T he distinctive works o4 Barbro Åberg are im- bued with a li4e o4 their own. They tell tales o4 ancient cultures and common human dreams. Their power4ul symbolism wakes collective memories o4 early beginnings, o4 the passing o4 time, and o4 eternity, in a collage o4 glimpses o4 li4e.<br><br> The works are not easily categorized. A Swede living in Den- mark, Åberg manages to escape the shackles o4 both traditions, borrowing the best 4rom each: the play4ul evocativeness o4 the Swedes and the rig- orous analytical ap- proach o4 the Danes. In addition, she spent ve years in the United States at the outset o4 her career; a period that still in- spires her works with a sense o4 con dence and adventure.<br><br> It is in this amalgam o4 cultures 4in this eld o4 tension 4that her works exist. cA recurrent theme in my work is a kind o4 search 4or the uni- versal, d says Åberg. cMy work is not private.<br><br> O4 course I am an ingredient in the work. And the intensity o4 the work process is refected in the work. I4 I wasn 9t really present, you can tell by the nished work.<br><br> Then, it 9s o4 less conse- quence. A good piece has its own language, its own story. It 9s alive somehow. d Åberg 9s work has various re4erences.<br><br> One is ancient scripts. She models Phoenician or runic inscriptions in three dimensions and in the process trans4orms her content to a more abstract result that merely hints at its origins. Once, the result was so reminiscent o4 old navigational instruments or astronomical devices that a new theme spon- taneously developed.<br><br> Based on the original drawings o4 the sixteenth-century Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, she has created a series o4 works inspired by early astronomi- cal instruments. The cells o4 li4e are another re4er- ence. A recent piece, cBlack Egg, d is a large sculptural ren- dition o4 a group o4 cells.<br><br> Maybe a piece o4 human tissue magni ed under the microscope. Or the cells o4 a beehive or a cut-through mushroom. The ar- chetypal symbols o4 li4e are translated into clay, the very essence o4 renewal o4 li4e 4ossilized, 4orever unchange- able in an unset- tling contradiction o4 meaning.<br><br> The ship is an on- going moti4 that rst appeared in her work when she was at art school. cAs a child, I had a recurring dream about being a passenger on a large passenger ship, d Åberg explains. cI was there with a boy o4 my own age and many other peo- ple.<br><br> We wanted to go and watch the sunset, and as we went out onto the deck, we saw that we were inside a grotto and that the ship was in 4act a huge rock. d Yet another example o4 the duality o4 4orm and multiplicity o4 re4erence that Barbro Åberg by Ulla Munck Jørgensen Spiral Wheel , 60 cm (24 in.) in diameter, ball clay with perlite and paper fbers, with white terra sigillata and stains, fred to 1135ÚC (2075ÚF) in an electric kiln, 2005. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 10 characterizes Åberg 9s work. A ship o4 stone!<br><br> More rock than ship, yet the 4orm is unmistakably boatlike. The strong ties to nature can be traced to her childhood. Åberg spent the summers by the Baltic Sea on the remote Eastern coastline in the very north o4 Sweden.<br><br> cI spent hours alone roaming the beaches, my only company be- ing the huge stones pushed onto the beach and into the sea by the ice cap, d she recalls. cThere were large smooth stones, and stones with many grooves and great texture. Then there was a boulder ridge and pieces o4 slate that rose several meters up into the sky. d Åberg still carries the visual material o4 her childhood.<br><br> But not everything is stored in the treasure chamber o4 the mind. She also takes photographs. Not in the sense o4 a traditional photographer but to capture feeting moments, to help store memories o4 textures, 4orms and moti4s.<br><br> She works very intuitively. cI think ideas are born and then they develop, d she explains. cTime needs to pass be- 4ore something appears.<br><br> I 4ollow my impulses. I trust them. An idea arises suddenly.<br><br> Then I make a loose sketch or write down a 4ew words to remember it. d O4ten her works end up quite di44erent 4rom how she rst imagined. They change during the work process. She enters into collaboration with the work; into a kind o4 dia- log.<br><br> cI have to listen and look; it 9s not just me making the decisions. Sometimes a piece is shouting at me to change it this way or that. d But how did it all begin? Her career as a ceramist be- gan in the U.S.<br><br> in 1979. She had met a young American and moved to Oregon. There she went to college and took many o4 the art courses that were available, including ce- ramics.<br><br> And that was it. She became the assistant to her teacher Nancy Travers, and she got a thorough 4oundation and learned many important practical skills. She also spent a year in Berkeley, Cali4ornia, working 4or various ceram- ics artists at the Berkeley Potters Guild.<br><br> cThey had a very di44erent approach. There were no limitations and a great sense o4 4reedom. You could do what you liked!<br><br> The Dan- ish approach is very analytical. These are two extremes. I try to combine both modes o4 working. d A4ter ve years in the U.S., she moved back to Scandina- via, where she studied drawing, painting and sculpture at art school in Sweden, and then nally graduated 4rom the School o4 Arts and Cra4ts in Kolding, Denmark, in 1988.<br><br> As o4 yet, she has never been tempted to settle on any ma- terial other than clay. In 1990, she was introduced to a new clay body recipe by the American, Bob Shay, who gave a workshop at a Clay Today symposium at Hollu4gård in Denmark. The clay was hal4 ball clay, hal4 perlite, a volcanic substance.<br><br> The two together made an ideal material 4or sculpting. cI 4elt a 4reedom with this new material, d Åberg said. cI could do all kinds o4 things that I couldn 9t do with ordi- nary clay.<br><br> I started working very expressively. I didn 9t want to control things too much. Perhaps I needed to liberate mysel4 4rom my time at art school.<br><br> I started to use bright commercial stains and acrylic paint, I built solid pieces, used cardboard boxes and lled them up with clay, and I Flow I and Flow II , 65 cm (26 in.) in height, ball clay with perlite and paper fbers, 2003 and 2004. www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2009, Ceramic Publications Company | Contemporary Clay Sculpture | 11 combined clay with glass and heating elements. d But a4ter a while, she grew tired o4 the many colors and resumed her interest in 4orm. cThe year o4 1999 marked a real dividing line, d she ex- plained.<br><br> cThis is when I nished building my own studio. Until then, I had shared a studio with other ceramists in Århus. Working alone, my sculptures completely changed.<br><br> They became lighter with more open structures. More re ned. I spend hours on my work now.<br><br> This latest piece, 8Spiral Wheel, 9 which is going to be exhibited at Meister der Moderne in Munich has taken me six weeks to make! I go to and 4ro. I look at it and I adjust.<br><br> Usually I work on three to 4our pieces at a time, but this piece has preoc- cupied me completely. d Today she includes paper bers in her clay and she has many customized recipes, some 4or large solid pieces, some 4or small works and some 4or pieces with an open struc- ture. The sur4aces are treated with a terra sigillata engobe, and occasionally the sur4aces are scratched and marked with stamps. In her recent works, the sur4aces are le4t un- marked allowing the 4orm to stand out.<br><br> And no doubt, Åberg is extremely conscious o4 4orm. Yet her work is never devoid o4 content. More o4 a sculptor than a potter, she creates objects o4 great depth and long lasting impression.<br><br> Spheres with Cross , 27 cm (11 in.) in diameter, ball clay with perlite and paper fbers, 2002. Cargo , 110 cm (43 in.) in length, ball clay with perlite and paper fbers, 2002, by Barbro Åberg, Ry, Denmark. <br><br>